By Vince Rugari
AAP on July 26, 2016, 9:03 am
The Queensland Reds have announced former Wallabies prop Nick Stiles as their head coach for the next two Super Rugby seasons.
Stiles received the nod ahead of fellow interim co-coach Matt O'Connor, who has been released to pursue other head coaching opportunities, and outgoing Crusaders boss Todd Blackadder.
Stiles and O'Connor had shared the coaching role since the sacking of Richard Graham two rounds into the 2016 Super Rugby season.
"I'm incredibly proud and honoured to get the opportunity to lead the Reds into the future," said Stiles, a 12-cap Wallaby who played his entire career in Queensland.
"Ballymore is like a second home to me.
"We've got an exciting group of players with a lot of potential and some great staff and we are all highly motivated to return the Reds to success."
Stiles has never been a head coach at the top level before, but he does have 11 years of coaching experience, including six seasons as a Super Rugby assistant and two at the helm of Brisbane City, guiding them to back-to-back National Rugby Championships.
He also has the backing of the Reds playing group, having been endorsed for the job by departing veteran Greg Holmes and returning Wallabies five-eighth Quade Cooper, who is expected to pledge his future to the franchise following Stiles' appointment.
"Nick is a good leader, who has turned the Reds set pieces into one of the more statistically dominant in Super Rugby," said the Queensland Rugby Union's executive general manager, Daniel Herbert.
"He has the backing of the Queensland Rugby Union and the Australian Rugby Union, including Wallabies coach Michael Cheika, who has committed to working closely with Nick to ensure his ongoing development and success as a head coach."
The Reds finished the season in 15th place on the Super Rugby ladder with a poor 3-17 record, and will look to Stiles to guide them to their first finals campaign since 2013.
One of his first jobs will be finding a new attack coach, with O'Connor a contender to assume the vacant coaching role at the Western Force.